Vulnerability and Socio-Cultural Considerations for PHE in Emergencies

Publication date

03 Jun 2008


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One size does not always fit all. A toilet design which suits one community may be rejected by another. Superstitions over particular water sources can add complications to the selection and development of sources. Water supply facilities inappropriately sited can leave women at increased risk of rape or attack. Use of water resources in semi-arid or arid conflict affected areas can be politically sensitive and risk causing an escalation of conflicts. This Technical Brief highlights a range of vulnerability and socio-cultural related considerations for the PHE/PHP teams and identifies a number of ways in which they can respond in the field. For example there is a need to try to understand the power dynamics of the environment in which you are working; ask the people themselves what is suitable for facility provision making sure that you ask each of the key groups of people within the affected or host community. If men are unable to speak to women because of the cultural practices of the affected community, then ensure that female staff are available to discuss with women – which is also good practice in most situations. And where privacy is a particular issue, such as where women usually live in Purdah, then ensure that privacy is a feature of the technical designs.